What is Global Studies?
That was the question the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) invited the professors from the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies (JSIS) at the University of Washington (UW) to discuss in a two-day workshop at the NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House on 13 and 14 August.
Director of JSIS Prof Reşat Kasaba kick-started the workshop with a presentation to share his experience running the Global Studies programmes. According to him, there are two significant processes of integration and fragmentation that shape the contemporary world, and these two seemingly contradictory forces provide the framework for most of JSIS’s introductory courses.
“With the forces of integration, it is a lot easier today to communicate and travel; and for goods, ideas, and investments to move around the world. However, this integration comes together with a series of violent forces and processes that tear this world apart—ethnic and religious conflicts, anti-immigration sentiments, labour and Occupy movements; and of course, wars that seem to be multiplying and getting out of control,” he said.
“So it is an important aspect of today’s world to understand these forces that bring cultures, peoples, nations, and civilisations closer to each other and tear them apart at the same time,” he added.
In his presentation entitled “Beyond Isomorphism: Global Education in the 21st Century”, Prof Hamilton, Associate Director of JSIS, argued that the narrative universities use to explain the trend towards standardisation in higher education determines the practices they will adopt in the future.
He argued that universities should see the standardisation as a platform for greater differentiation in global higher education—the same way the proliferation of personal computers have led to greater innovation in information technology—instead of seeing the standardisation as a sterile path towards greater conformity and little innovation.
The workshop not only gave the faculty members of JSIS and FASS a platform for exchanging ideas about global studies, it also paved the way for future collaboration between the two universities; on 13 August, FASS Dean Prof Brenda Yeoh signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of NUS, agreeing to collaborate with UW’s College of Arts and Sciences in various ways, including research and exchange of students.
The JSIS is a school within the UW College of Arts and Sciences, in Seattle, Washington. The College provides a liberal arts education of tremendous breadth and depth to more than 27,000 students, and counts among its distinguished alumni Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners.
Vice Dean (Undergraduate Studies) A/P Paulin Straughan said, “We’re very excited about the signing of the MOU with the UW College of Arts and Sciences. UW is a highly reputable university and the JSIS is a centre of excellence for Global Studies.”
“The MOU will open up opportunities for FASS students to go on exchange to UW, and this close collaboration will also lead to new opportunities for joint teaching between our colleagues from both schools,” she added.
While at NUS, Prof Kasaba also took some time to give an introductory talk to FASS students on global studies. Those interested in the subject can read the module GL1101: Global Issues taught by Dr Kim Hyejin. Click here for more information about the module.